Woman jailed for role in restaurant burglary

A judge has warned a 36-year-old woman with a significant criminal history: “You are not getting any younger and the sentences won’t get any shorter.”

Michelle Joy Tagestad acted as the driver when Cortado’s restaurant, just over the road from the Sydenham Police Station, was burgled early on January 24.

A member of the public spotted the raid and reported it, and the offenders were rapidly found with the stolen cash drawer in the car.

Tagestad has seven pages of computer print-out listing her previous offending. It includes what Judge Michael Crosbie described at her Christchurch District Court sentencing as “entrenched history of dishonesty and not complying with orders of the court”.

Graeme Richard Brand, a 31-year-old labourer who admitted carrying out the break-in, was jailed for 13 months for the burglary and other charges last month.

Tagestad was jointly charged with the burglary, and the judge warned her about the future she faced if she continued to offend. She had seven previous breaches of community work, and the burglary had been committed while she was on bail.

“One can be cynical about the claim that you didn’t know what was going on, as the driver,” he told her.

Defence counsel Karen Chalmers said Tagestad had a lesser role in the burglary and she had not entered the building. She was remorseful and regretful of her participation in the burglary. She was easily led by others, and had issues with alcohol and drugs.

“She does need help in order to change her lifestyle,” Miss Chalmers said.

Tagestad was also facing sentencing on charges of driving while forbidden, breach of community work, breach of bail, a petrol drive-off theft, and unlawfully taking a car.

She had been found driving the car in Nelson, and starting it with a screwdriver in the ignition. The registration plates had been changed.

Judge Crosbie imposed jail terms totalling 15 months, and disqualified her from driving for two years, because she had used a car in the burglary and other offences.

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